Video game review: Football Manager 2015, by Sports Interactive
Football Manager 2015
Its horrors aren't to be taken lightly: the obsession, the addiction, the wasted months, the sleepless nights as you strategically weigh up transfers and tactics. And finally, that tear-strewn, crack-of-dawn moment when you realise you just can't take it anymore, your finger trembling over the mouse as you finally click "delete".
Football Manager is nothing more than page upon page of statistical data, offset with the occasional virtual match that you can't actually control, but to the many fans of the sport, it inspires an infatuation unrivalled in the world of video games.
A feeling of power and control not unlike that of the Civilization series, but on a more realistic and micromanaged scale. You take charge as head manager of your favourite football team, and through player and staff purchases, regular training, plenty of tactical planning and the occasional bit of luck, you can guide them to fulfilling victory - or frustrating loss.
Unlike its playable football counterpart in the FIFA series, developer Sports Interactive has year after year ensured that its latest iteration is always a significant overhaul of the previous edition, bringing back compulsive fans not just with updated rosters, but through key feature changes and additions. This year's FM2015 release has a host of updated features.
Aside from the updated 3D match engine graphics on "game day", the true highlight is the option to choose between being a "tracksuit manager" and a "tactical manager", the two often overlapping in previous editions. Here, the choice between getting deeply involved in either the training or strategies is an important factor not just in the gameplay, but in how players and staff react to you as a leader.
The only real problem with this true-to-life recreation is that accuracy is occasionally taken too far, such as in the unfocused but essential meetings. Regular chats with your staff and press are required to place your team at the forefront of this money-controlled world, but it often comes at the expense of entertainment. It's true that realism should be the goal, but a balance is necessary, especially when repetition starts to set in.
FM15 doesn't break new ground but it does build on a decades-old formula to ensure your life will soon be dominated by a delusion-filled virtual world of fictional players, fake matches and simulated football management.